- Nov 12, 2013
I have been in the tarantula hobby for going on 11 years now. I've been selling/buying and breeding for the last 5 years. I enjoy what I do and I feel I am going to be a granny with a massive collection one day. I wanted to be productive so I figured I'd start a thread with the "basics" so let me start off with a little basic info. You'll probably read this....Or similar threads to this elsewhere on the site (which is great because research is the best thing you can offer your pet!!) There is no report of any one person dying from a tarantula bite. Tarantula venom is milder than a bee sting (well, there are some species (poecilotheria) that have more potent venom than other tarantula species but there still are no known reports of death even from them). Tarantulas do bite. There are some species that are docile (less likely to do so out of aggression) but ANY tarantula can bite. It has fangs; it can bite. It does not mean that they will or that every species is "prone" to biting. New world species of tarantulas have urticating hair. This is used as a defense mechanism. The hair they kick off can get into your skin and may cause you to itch. Not all new world tarantulas will kick this hair- they just have the ability to do so. Make sure you wear protective eyewear and gloves to minimize any reaction you may have from the hair. Old world species do not have this hair, so they are more likely to bite. Another thing: tarantulas are NOT poisonous. They are venomous. For those that do not know, there is a difference. Poison is secreted and absorbed through skin/oral contact. Venom has to be "injected" by something. Example: Poison dart frog. Touch it and your skin is going to absorb the poison from the frog. Scorpion: if it stings you, it has injected it's venom into you by piercing your skin. I'm not saying this to scare anyone away from collecting any animal. I'm only trying to educate. In order for your tarantula to grow it has to molt (a similar process to a snake shedding it's skin). The tarantula will be plump in the abdomen. It will refuse food for weeks before doing this so don't worry about your tarantula not eating. You will need to have adequate water available for the tarantula and you will need to keep the humidity up at this time to avoid the issues of having a tarantula get stuck in its molt. You can do this by misting 2-3x a week until it molts. Once it molts, you may go back to it's usual care. It will make a bed of web or a hammock (depending on species) to lie on. It will flip over on its dorsal side (the top side) or other wise known as "flipping on its back" (tarantulas don't have "backs") and it will lie very still. You will see little to no movement during this process. Do not, I repeat, DO NOT DISTURB THE TARANTULA OR THE CAGE during this process!! It could stress the tarantula out and cause issues with molting that could potentially lead to the death of the tarantula. It's not dead. It will complete it's process in a few hours....Some take a day or so. When it's done, you will see an old skin "exoskeleton" in the cage with your tarantula (if they haven't decided to eat it afterward- which, they do for extra hydration and nourishment from the stressful molting process- they lose a lot of fluid when molting). Your tarantula will look "new". Some may even change color/pattern afterwards. Wait at least 7 days post molt before offering it food again. Make sure you have a water dish in your tarantulas cage at all times. Do not use a wet sponge. It holds bacteria that can lead to mold and other things that could cause health issues with your tarantula. A water dish with a few small pebbles inside (to prevent tarantula from drowning if it is small) will be sufficient. For tarantulas that are slings (babies), do not use any water resevoir. Just mist the side of the cage 2-3x a week so that they may drink. Do not spray the tarantula. For juvies, it is best to use a small juice lid or lid off of a 20 oz soda. For adults, use a water dish with water. No pebbles are needed. You can find them at pet stores, Walmart, etc....Or you can cut the bottom of a plastic cup out (about a half inch high from the base). Be sure to thoroughly clean your tarantulas water dish. Do not use chemicals to clean with. Hot water and some mild soap will do. Your tarantulas substrate will need to be changed once every 6 months. Between that time period, any bolus left will need to be clean (these are the little balls of cricket/roach leftovers that the tarantula leaves in the water dish or on the substrate. For arboreals species (tree dwelling tarantulas): they need more "height" space than floor space. You will need a tall terrarium with little floor space. For terrestrial species: they need more floor space than height. This also works for burrowers but make sure you have enough substrate depth for them to burrow in. Do not house slings in adult enclosures. You wouldn't house a 9" T stirmi in a 32oz deli cup would you? (For the sake of the tarantula I'd hope everyone answered no to that one). They will not be able to hunt very well. Some tarantulas may enjoy a hide...Some may not use them at all. It's always nice to have a little home for them, though. Tarantulas do better in "cooler" temps than warmer temps. Meaning, you can keep your tarantula at room temperature. You don't need a heat pad. You don't need a heat lamp. These things will "cook" your tarantula slowly. Just avoid them. Temps averaging between 72-80°f is just fine. Some species do better in cooler temps (Megaphoebema) around 55-60°f. DO NOT CROSS BREED TARANTULAS. DON'T EVEN ASK WHY. THERE'S NO REASON TO BE CURIOUS ABOUT IT. IT'S JUST WRONG AND IT MESSES WITH NATURE AT IT'S PUREST! This is just a little information to offer for those of you that would like to own a tarantula. Of course, it's highly recommended to research any species of tarantula you want to obtain. Please RESEARCH RESEARCH RESEARCH. It will help you and your new pet in the long run.